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The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale of  How India was Mapped and Everest was Named
The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale of How India was Mapped and Everest was Named
by John Keay
Edition: Hardcover

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It would help if one had a qualification in Geodesy, 5 April 2001
but luckily this is not entirely necessary for Mr Keay does attempt to initiate the novice with an understanding of the subject and ancillary sciences. However, through the mist of trigonometry and refraction coefficients, the author reveals a story of incredible human endeavour in measuring the spine and associated areas of India. The book paints vivid portraits of the two main architects; the modest William Lambton and the martinet George Everest. The personalities of these pioneers could not have been more different. However, both were men of integrity and both driven by a common, almost fanatical, dedication to the onerous task. A fine documentary, almost certainly the only readable account of the 'Great Trigonometrical Survey of India'.


The Maharajah's Box: An Imperial Story of Conspiracy, Love and a Guru's Prophecy
The Maharajah's Box: An Imperial Story of Conspiracy, Love and a Guru's Prophecy
by Christy Campbell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Christy Campbell has opened pandora's box, 20 Mar. 2001
with his amazing tale of Maharajah Duleep Singh's often preposterous manoeuvres to reclaim his heritage following the British annexation of the Punjab. An increasingly sad piece of history as the writer unfolds the Maharajah's trail from India, the Middle East, Suffolk, Paris, Russia - a circuitous journey that not only exercised government ministers, ambassadors, agents, but Queen Victoria herself. While one can only sit back and admire the author's extensive and penetrating research, Mr Christie has a tendency, in places, to litter the text with names which can make it difficult for the reader to retain the plot. Nevertheless, persevere, for The Maharajah's Box may be regarded as a classic in the genre of the 'Great Game' - one of Britain's preoccupations in nineteenth century India.


The Begums of Bhopal: A History of the Princely State of Bhopal
The Begums of Bhopal: A History of the Princely State of Bhopal
by Shaharyar M. Khan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £37.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courage, murder,intrigue, compassion, 26 Feb. 2001
and so the foundling state of Bhopal was etched into the map of early eighteenth century India amid the turmoil of Moghul decline and rise of the Marhatta menace. While the male line ruled for some hundred years, it is clear from the book that the seeds of female influence were apparent well before the 'Begums of Bhopal' began their long, illustrious reign in 1819. A truly remarkable dynasty which bought with it by degrees far sighted political, astutness, administrative innovation,
benevolent governance and thus secured the state's survival until its union with India. No writer of fiction could have created such an amazing family saga. Shaharyar Khan claims he is neither an author nor a historian yet with consummate skill he has given us an absorbing tale of his family history which reflects, in many ways, the fascinating history that is India.


The Great Hedge of India
The Great Hedge of India
by Roy Moxham
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful and cleverly constructed book, 14 Feb. 2001
With pace and anticipation Mr Moxham fascinates us with his passion to find the actual customs line. Such adventures and dedication alternate with the historical background to the oppressive salt tax which he provides with refreshing clarity. By now one might have thought that the mine of information published on British India has been exhaused. However, Mr Moxham has prised a unique gem from the footnotes of history. I for one am glad he perserved in his search and research for the book is a joy to read and difficult to put down.


The Opium War Through Chinese Eyes
The Opium War Through Chinese Eyes
by Arthur Waley com
Edition: Paperback

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing view of the Opium Wars, 28 Nov. 2000
from the Chinese perspective. Arthur Waley's scholarship can only be admired for he has translated personal diaries to build a picture of events prior to and during the war. The diaries are illuminating and reveal their writers' thinking, beliefs and feelings. Usefully, however, Arthur Waley often corrects them from his historical knowledge, particularly 'the wishful thinking' entries. The book's major part covers the role of Commissioner Lin of Canton whose official and personal crusade was to eradicate opium imports and whose actions led unwittingly to war. Of lesser historical importance, but just as interesting, are the journals of people involved in the re-taking of Ningpo and the fall of Shanghai and Chinkiang. Although the Author provides historical backgrounds to these events and diaries, to get real value from this fascinating book, I recommend initially that you read Jack Beeching's equally stimulating 'The Chinese Opium Wars' for the overall context.


The Chinese Opium Wars (Harvest Book; Hb 350)
The Chinese Opium Wars (Harvest Book; Hb 350)
by Jack Beeching
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.79

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little remembered, perhaps repressed, 22 Nov. 2000
chapter in British history? For this excellent book exposes in riveting detail Britain's shameful and pernicious Bengalese opium trade with China. Jack Beeching traces Britain's thirst for tea and her inability to pay, essentially, in anything other than opium; her maintenance of this trade through two wars advanced upon spurious pretexts encouraged, in part, by parliamentary lobbyists. Interleaved with these events the author describes, just as vividly, the tragic consequences of the Taiping insurrection signalling a further weakening of the Manchu dynasty. Altogether a fascinating read whether you are interested in either Chinese or Indian history.


The Dawning of the Raj: The Life and Trials of Warren Hastings: The Story of the Roots of the British Empire in India and of the Man Who Planted Them
The Dawning of the Raj: The Life and Trials of Warren Hastings: The Story of the Roots of the British Empire in India and of the Man Who Planted Them
by Jeremy Bernstein
Edition: Hardcover

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hastings : Probably the most underestimated figure, 26 Oct. 2000
in the history of British India. General histories serve to stimulate the appetite for more detailed knowledge - specific events and characters. In this vein one such character must be Warren Hastings. After much searching we now have 'Dawning of the Raj' - the only contemporary work,as far as one is aware, to study his life and contribution in full. Bernstein amply rewards us with this excellent book which narrates with a clear passion the man's early, unsettled life leading to academic success. Only financial circumstances led him in 1750 to become a writer in the East India Company at the age of 17. He rose rapidly in the service, in part enabled by Clive. In 1772 he became Governor of Bengal and in this capacity the author demonstrates that Hastings was certainly the first orientalist (amongst few who folloed). His scholarship had led him to learn the essential languages of the country and clearly nurtured a deep respect and concern for the people of India. Given his two short years of Govenorship he had the Hindu Law codified and transalated exclaiming that the people should be ruled by laws that "time and religion has rendered familiar to their understandings and sacred to their affections". He attempted to clear up the corruption of revenue collection in Bengal, created a postal service, conducted a geographical survey of the country, financed expeditions and began planning granaries in the wake of possible, inevitable future famine. One wonders how much more Hastings' reforming zeal would have achieved had North not introduced the Regulating Act in 1773 coincidental with his appointment as the first Governor General of all British possessions. The Act and the reasons behind its implementation are graphically described as well as the outcome, which not only curtailed the authority of the Governor but also introduced four Government appointees to the Council. Together they knew little or anything about India - being concerned only with their individual ambitions while displaying no positive regard to their responsibilities. All were consumed with antagonism towards Hastings and in particular the vile Phillip Francis who later became a central figure in the impeachment of Hastings. (How any man can live a career fuelled by such negative passion defies belief). In 'foreign' affairs, Hastings followed the Company edict in protection and not expansion of their trading rights.He supported Oudh bordering Bengal against incursions by the Rohillas, took measures to contain the Marathas and formed alliances in his protection of the Carnatic. In Hastings' dealings with the Indian rulers, accusations of extortion and bribery were levelled at him, which formed the basis of his 7 year impeachment after which he was acquitted. These are the bear bones of this crusading man's life. Bernstien's extensive research not only puts flesh upon them but also is massively rich in detail and characterisation. Although the chronology is difficult at times to follow, as the author admits freely, you will be well rewarded by your perseverance.


Liberty Or Death: India's Journey to Independence and Division
Liberty Or Death: India's Journey to Independence and Division
by Patrick French
Edition: Paperback

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you read only one book, 10 Oct. 2000
concerning the exhausting road towards India's Independence and ulimate partition, then Liberty or Death is the one volume you should read. Patrick French's book takes us comprehensively through the complex journey with amazing clarity. His narrative is enriched by the vivid portraits he paints of all the key participants, always enlightening often refreshingly critical, which helps one's understanding of their motivations and actions which led to partition and consequent tragedy. Given the human misery caused by political petulance, intransigence, indecision, one feels a great sense of guilt in finding this book gripping throughout and difficult to put down


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